Writing:

Character Types

Horse

  • Social, receptive, emotional.
  • “I am warm, caring, and sensitive to the needs of others.”

Dove

  • Social, receptive, stable.
  • “I am a peacemaker, sometimes too passive for my own good.”

Turtle

  • Reserved, receptive, stable.
  • “I am cautious and consistent, and I want to follow clear-cut guidelines.”

Owl

  • Reserved, receptive, emotional.
  • “I enjoy investigating complex issues that few are even interested in.”

Wolf

  • Reserved, confident, stable.
  • “I am organized, orderly, and self-disciplined.”

Cat

  • Reserved, confident, emotional.
  • “I tend to obsess, take things personally, and dwell on the past.”

Fox

  • Social, confident, emotional.
  • “I am fun-loving and spontaneous; I try to keep my life exciting.”

Bear

  • Social, confident, stable.
  • “My dominating personality allows me to take charge and gain recognition.”

When developing a believable character, it helps to think of real people you’ve known in your life and use them as a starting point. However, this will only get you so far. When you want your characters to stand on their own—and perhaps just as importantly, stand apart from the rest of your characters—some analysis of personality is warranted.

Use the wheel above to cycle through the eight basic character archetypes I’ve sketched out based on popular personality typing systems and the I Ching. Rather than matching your character up with just one of these types, I’d suggest choosing one for who they try to be and one for who they tend to be.

So for example, an Fox-Owl would be a rather serious person who’s driven to understand everything (Owl), but also someone who puts a lot of effort into managing the impression they make on others, softening it in a self-deprecating way (Fox).

This system allows for 64 possible characters right off the bat. Of course, two characters of the same exact type will still be different people, but it may be helpful to differentiate your major characters into separate types so they’re easier for your readers to distinguish.


Horse

Traits: Social, receptive, emotional.

Quote: “I am warm, caring, and sensitive to the needs of others.”

Trigram: ☴ (Wind)

Associated types: Example characters:

Dove

Traits: Social, receptive, stable.

Quote: “I am a peacemaker, sometimes too passive for my own good.”

Trigram: ☵ (Water)

Associated types: Example characters:

Turtle

Traits: Reserved, receptive, stable.

Quote: “I am cautious and consistent, and I want to follow clear-cut guidelines.”

Trigram: ☶ (Mountain)

Associated types: Example characters:

Owl

Traits: Reserved, receptive, emotional.

Quote: “I enjoy investigating complex issues that few are even interested in.”

Trigram: ☷ (Earth)

Associated types: Example characters:

Wolf

Traits: Reserved, confident, stable.

Quote: “I am organized, orderly, and self-disciplined.”

Trigram: ☳ (Thunder)

Associated types: Example characters:

Cat

Traits: Reserved, confident, emotional.

Quote: “I tend to obsess, take things personally, and dwell on the past.”

Trigram: ☲ (Fire)

Associated types: Example characters:

Fox

Traits: Social, confident, emotional.

Quote: “I am fun-loving and spontaneous; I try to keep my life exciting.”

Trigram: ☱ (Lake)

Associated types: Example characters:

Bear

Traits: Social, confident, stable.

Quote: “My dominating personality allows me to take charge and gain recognition.”

Trigram: ☰ (Heaven)

Associated types: Example characters: